Prayer Vigil - Statement by Ron Hodges

April 5, 2008

Here is a statement read by Ron Hodges at this evening's prayer vigil on Saipan:

Chamberonomics 47...prayer vigil

Guest workers here have exhibited unimaginable patience. Hopefully, this never ending struggle will soon be over. I believe S.2739, currently before the US Senate, will soon pass unanimously. I also believe the President of the United States will sign this bill into law, and the US will gain control of the NMI labor and immigration system.

I believe this will foster a new era in the commonwealth. I believe this will create a community driven by a free market system. I believe the standards of living, wages, and the quality of life for our long mistreated guest workers and our indigenous populace will begin to improve. I believe the United States is our friend, certainly not our enemy.

All of you here, at American Memorial Park this evening, have a claim to America that no other immigrants before you can boast. All of you here can be proud that you have served your time. You have worked, labored, and toiled to build a part of America. America is a country of immigrants. No immigrants before you were brought to US soil with promises of work in America, and now, in many cases 20 years after your arrival, you still do not have working status in America. You still do not have the freedom to change employers. You still do not have the freedom to travel or move. You still do not have the right to bring your family, including spouses and children to live beside you. You are officially veterans of the Northern Mariana Islands, and whether you are Filipino, Bangladeshi, Chinese, or other, no immigrant group before you can boast what you can.

I can assure you, that every decent mainland American that knows this story is proud of each of you, and of each of your contributions. I assure you, that every decent American aware that you have long been denied unalienable human rights is outraged. I assure you, this case will come out. I assure you, that justice, no matter how slow, will prevail here.

I will never stop highlighting this case until the U.S. grants improved status and green cards for our long abused guest workers. I will never veer from the belief that each of you has already earned the right to an unobstructed path to US citizenship. No immigrants in U.S. history, not my ancestors or anyone else anywhere, can boast the accomplishments you can.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak.